Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Time to shed more weight and upgrade the GPS

Well, it's a new week and we're still in lockdown mode so I'm calling this the Covid upgrade. Our factory GPS unit was top of the line when it was new. Now, not so much. Like TVs of old they were big, bulky and weighed a ton. The maps no longer could be updated and it was simply cumbersome to use. I bought a Garmin unit that I attached to the driver's window and I used that for navigation. Debi liked to program our destination into the Kenwood but I rarely used it. I decided it was time to upgrade what we had and see if I could combine both GPS units into one that would satisfy our needs. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Garmin just came out with the RV890 which looks like it will fit perfectly for our needs. So, today I decided to demo the old unit. Here is the breakdown:

The Kenwood system consists of several parts. This is the GPS monitor which sits in the middle of the dash. The lower portion of the dash contains two 12VDC plugs, the microphone for the GPS and a voice sensor. There are two a/c vents as well. The monitor, microphone and sensors will be removed.

Here is the second part of the system. This contains the radio and the Aladdin system. The top portion extends and tilts upward when the unit is turned on. The Aladdin system contains the four outside and one inside cameras. It also provides all the operating data for the coach including mileage etc. This portion will not be touched.

After loosening the bezel, I tilted the monitor forward and removed the four screws holding the monitor in place. It was held onto the mounting plate by four velcro tabs. The A/C vent hoses are removed by 1/4 turn tabs. I set them aside to re-route later. 

With access to the back of the monitor, I unplugged the two cigarette lighters, the a/c hoses and unplugged the monitor. This allowed me to remove the bezel and the monitor as one piece.

Monitor has been removed. I intend to save the mounting assembly and attach the new Garmin device to it. This will allow me to mount that to the bezel and hopefully make it look like a factory install.

As I said, the Kenwood system consist of several pieces. The monitor which you've just seen, the receiver which is the silver box with the multi colored ports seen here, the radio assembly, described above and the CD unit which will be discussed below. The wiring was amazing and I knew I'd have to clean all that up before I was done. 

Here you can see three of the pieces of the system all in one picture. The monitor is removed and laying flat on the console. The receiver is the silver box in the back and the CD player is in the cabinet below the dash assembly. Four screws hold the CD player to a bracket and all the cables and wires simply unplug. That huge mess of wires on the console is for the microphone. I think the engineers thought the microphone would be mounted 150 feet away from the unit.

This is the single disc CD player. Kenwood uses CDs that contain all the information necessary for the GPS unit. North America is available on two discs, one for the East Coast and one for the West Coast. This sometimes is cumbersome if you're traveling across country as you must change discs to access the information needed.

Four screws and several wire plugs removed and the disc player is removed. After removal of the monitor, the receiver and the CD player, all the wiring must be removed. What a rat's nest. Very little thought went into the installation as wires went everywhere. The microphone had 150' of wire, the monitor, 15' and the receiver another 15'.!


System is out and on the table. The microphone and sensors were double sided taped to the bezel. It will take a bit to clean the residue off before I can reinstall it. I also found the bezel was broken at the top where the screw went in. I'll repair that with a thin piece of aluminum from the scrap pile and some JB Weld. All told the removed components and associated wiring weighed 10 pounds! The Garmin RV890 tips the scales at a mere 13.7 ounces.

I re-routed the a/c hoses away from the wiring, cut out most of the wasted wires and re-routed a bunch of them. Fifteen to twenty zip ties and a plastic anchor now holds all the wires together and out of the way.

So, I drew the bezel opening on a piece of paper and cut out the dimensions of the Garmin RV890 on another piece of paper. I then overlaid the Garmin onto the bezel and this is the result. The black lines are the bezel opening and the lime colored image is the Garmin RV890. I'll post the finished product once I've received and installed it. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Out with the old; In with the new.

For the past couple of years, I've been wanting to upgrade the front television in our coach. The 32" Sharp was ok and serviceable but it just didn't have the "pop" and the advantages of the new smart televisions. We've also started streaming a lot of movies as sports have pretty much fallen to the wayside and may stay there for awhile. With that in mind, the largest television that would kinda fit in the existing opening was a 40" flatty. Below are some pictures of the install and what it entailed. It took me about three days to complete the changeover. I could have done it quicker but with temperatures hovering around 105 degrees, I just didn't feel like overdoing it. I did have the a/c on but I only spent a few hours each day. Total cost was about $320. TV $189. Sound Bar $70 Then about $60 in misc parts and HDMI cables. Here are the pictures: Hope you enjoy....Dennis

This is the original TV. 32" Sharp with side speakers. The cabinet is 19"X 38 5/8". The new TV is a 40" Vizio with speakers in the rear. It measures 21.5" X 35.5". In order to fit, I must cut 1 1/2" off the top and narrow the cabinet by 3 1/8". Since the Vizio has rear speakers I decided on using a 2" sound bar alongside the TV for sound. This meant I only needed to narrow the cabinet by 1 1/8". 

Next is the tuner for the Sharp. This unit runs all the other audio visual stuff in the coach. The new television won't be needing this extra stuff. All in all, I'll be removing almost 60 pounds of extra weight.

Tuner is removed and look at all that mess. Wires here, wires there. Nothing is tie wrapped either. What a mess. Time for my lineman's pliers and start snipping.

There! That looks better and much cleaner. The new television will use only one HDMI cable for the DirecTV box and another for the DVD player. I pulled those two cables thru the top cabinet and tied them off. 

With the old TV removed, you'll see the access panel off the back of the cabinet. This allows access to remove the old TV. Notice the blue box on the left. That's the power supply and ignition shut off so the TV can't be used while driving. The cable you see is from the Winegard antenna on the roof which goes to  the DirecTV box. Since there's only a single outlet, I added a three outlet pigtail as the sound bar needs power too.

With the cabinet cut away along the top,  I salvaged the piece I cut off and repurposed it along the right side of the opening. Since it's part of the same cabinetry, it matches so it looks like it belongs there. Notice the pull string for the HDMI cables. I decided to leave it in place should I need to pull more cables in the future. The small speaker on the lower left of the cabinet is part of the Bose surround system and will only be used for the DVD player.

I purchased a 48" slotted 14 ga. angle bar to be used for the TV mount. I wanted the slots to be able to slide and adjust the TV once it's in the opening so it fits flush with the cabinetry. I cut it in half and cut and bent the ends, top and bottom. They are held in place by 1/4" lag bolts. You can see I've already mounted the sound bar in place using a couple pieces of aluminum from my scrap pile.
 And here's the final result! You can see the sound bar along the right side of the TV. Debi is happy and you know what they say, "A happy wife is a happy life"  Ahhh!  Life is good.